Worry, Worry, Worry

Posted on: April 1st, 2013 by Kay Swatkowski

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows

but only empties today of its strengths.”

- Charles H. Spurgeon

Worry!  We all do it and we do it too much.

Worry is an ineffective and exhausting way of dealing with life’s problems. We have never resolved any situation by worry.

Most visits to counselors’ offices are the result of overwhelming stress and anxiety.  Talking through life’s occurrences seems to help us deal with circumstantial stress and can limit the effect of anxiety.  Finding a network of trusted friends can also make stress and anxiety more bearable.  Exercise, recreation, relaxation and deep breathing dissipates the stress hormones that pommel our body and threaten our health.

Mental health professionals suggest an even more potent way of dealing with anxiety: challenging our thinking during times of anxiety.  They call it “defocusing.”

When we are overwhelmed with anxiety, the limbic (emotional) part of the brain is operating at full tilt. Additionally, the limbic brain signals the body to pump out adrenaline and other stress hormones as if we are in actual physical danger.

God designed us this way for our own protection.

It is difficult to think in a logical or problem solving fashion when our subconscious mind believes that we are being stalked by a tiger! The anxiety actually feeds itself and we are caught in an unrelenting and miserable cycle. Our brain is sending our body the message: RUN!

If we can find a trick to call upon the reasoning and problem solving part of our brain, we can quiet down the emotions of anxiety and begin to feel more peaceful. Then, we are better positioned to deal with the problem in a realistic, rational and effective way.

Counselors suggest the ABC method as one way of quelling anxiety.

Try this:

When overwhelmed with anxiety deliberately begin to make a list in your mind using the ABCs.  Make a list of all the dog breeds you can think of in alphabetical order: Afghan, Basset, Chihuahau, Doberman.  Or, make a list of unusual menu items for a pretend restaurant: Apple Betty, Chicken Delight, Eggs Fricassee, Gouda Hash.

Silly? Yes.

But, you will be surprised by how quickly your emotions come under control and you detect a smile on your face because of this nonsensical game.

Yes, defocusing works quite well.

The Bible gives us another even more powerful, effective and comforting method of dealing with life’s anxieties. Prayer.  Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV

For me, it is a kind of “refocusing.”

The world gives us plenty of reasons to be anxious. Each day a new truckload of stress pulls up to our doors. AS a Christian, I am encouraged to trade my anxiety in for prayer.  God calls us to “refocus” our thoughts and remember how much he loves us.

My greatest source of anxiety is concern for my family.  How many of us have laid awake at night worrying about a child or grandchild?  We could start a middle of the night online chat to bring comfort and solace and support to millions of aching souls.

Yet, in the dark wee hours of the morning, we find ourselves all alone with our fears. What do we do?

We pray.

Wait.  How do I pray when my emotions and thoughts seem so out of control?  Who can pray when anxiety is feeding itself and is a monster in charge of my heart and mind?

This might not work for you, but I use the ABC trick to get my heart and mind refocused on prayer.

I pray the ABCs for my family by  using key words found in favorite Bible verses.  Each verse is a spiritual goal I love from God’s Word and fervently wish for my children, grandchildren – and myself!

Even when other life’s circumstances or practical issues  are troubling my child or grandchild, I find praying for these spiritual goals a healthy reminder of the big picture.  It also allows me to engage the thinking part of my brain and I find I can regain God’s perspective on life.

Maybe you can create a list of your own.  Then, you can pull a few verses out when needed to help you refocus. Or, in the middle of the night, try to remember as many as you can and turn them into prayers.

Would you like to see my list?  Follow this link: http://www.americangrandma.com/?p=4651

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8 Responses

  1. Judi Shisler says:

    Thanks Kay. I’m the self appointed worrier in this family. I’ll try your tips.-especially when I lay awake at night.

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